Is your funeral home’s staff made up of innovators, or are you more resistant to change? According to the Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) theory, there are several types of people when it comes to change.
This theory — developed by communications professor E. M. Rodgers — is about how people adopt new ideas. In the case of funeral directors, it’s how your funeral home adopts to changes within the funeral profession.
As you know, the funeral profession is constantly changing with funeral trends emerging, from green burials to new technology. However, it takes more than just knowing what these trends are. Your funeral home needs to innovate before it’s too late to catch up to your competitors.
Let’s break down this theory and determine your adopter type.
Five Types of Adopters
According to the DOI theory, there are five types of adopters:
Innovators — These are the people who are the first to try new ideas.
Early Adopters — These people consider themselves opinion leaders, and they’re also open to change, but are a little less open to all new ideas than innovators.
Early Majority — The Early Majority aren’t typically leaders, but they still adopt to new ideas before the majority does.
Late Majority — These people are hesitant to change and only adopt after the majority does.
Laggards — Laggards are very hesitant to change and want to stick to tradition.
Most people fall into the middle adopter types: Early Majority and Late Majority. But even if you’re an Early Majority person, you’re still falling behind Early Adopters and Innovators.
So what factors influence adopting innovation? Let’s discuss this in the next section.
Five Main Factors That Influence Adopting Innovation
There are five main factors that influence adopting innovation:
Relative Advantage — Is this idea better than the product it replaces?
Compatibility — Does this idea meet the needs of potential adopters?
Complexity — Is this idea difficult to understand?
Triability — Can we test this idea before committing to it?
Observability — Will adopting this idea give you concrete results?
These factors fall into the different stages of adopting innovation. First, there’s the initial awareness of the idea and then the decision to try it or not. After trying it, you decide if the idea is working well or if more research is needed. Finally, you decide whether or not to continue with the idea.
For example, if your funeral home is considering adding cremation services, first consider the five main factors discussed above:
Relative Advantage — Although no end-of-life arrangement is “better” than the other, cremation services are rising in popularity.
Compatibility — If you find more and more community members prefer cremation to traditional burial, it may be time to start offering these services.
Complexity — Cremation isn’t something new; it’s been around for a long time and is continuing to grow.
Triability — Conduct some research in your community to see if your community members would be interested in cremation services. Also, analyze your funeral home’s finances to see if it’s possible to add cremation services to your budget.
Observability — If you find people are interested in cremation services, it will bring your funeral home more families and revenue in the long run.
The Benefits of Being Innovators
Although it’s good to maintain some tradition, it’s not good for a business to be resistant to change. By striving to be innovators, your funeral home can establish yourselves as thought leaders. You can show your families that you’re willing to try new and creative ways to honor their loved ones’ lives.
However, you don’t have to jump into every single new idea out there; just start with one and see where it takes you. If you find it’s not the right fit for your funeral home, that’s okay. There will always be a little trial and error when it comes to finding out what works and what doesn’t. Everyone, especially funeral directors, should strive to be lifelong learners and innovators.